Rare Rides: The Paseo-adjacent 1991 Toyota Sera

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides the paseo adjacent 1991 toyota sera

Only one car combines cheap and cheerful motoring with economical driving and butterfly doors. Fittingly, its Tercel and Paseo siblings were also dredged up in this QOTD post.

It’s the Toyota Sera, from 1991.

Toyota previewed the concept that would become the Sera in 1988, calling it the AXV-II. Radical butterfly doors combined with a roof made mostly of glass for a very slick, eye-catching design. Onlookers were duly pleased when Toyota released the Sera in 1990 in a production format that saw very few changes from the concept.

A four-seat hatchback, the Sera was intended as a downmarket alternative to the popular MR-2. Never intended for sale outside the Japanese market, the Sera was sold only at Toyota’s Corolla Store. Imagine having a store just for Corollas in North America. What a [s]Scion[/s] ridiculous idea!

The unique hatchback style was the only one offered on the Sera, and all trim levels used the same engine: a 1.5-liter inline-four from its brother, the Paseo. Toyota did see fit to offer different transmissions to its customers; a four-speed automatic and a five-speed manual were available.

Air conditioning was standard on all Seras, given the extensive use of glass, and this economical hatchback was one of the first vehicles to use projector HiD lamps. The cars were built in phases, and each phase determined the general color schemes available to buyers. Phase I was 1990 and 1991, the period when the majority of Seras (over 12,000) were produced. Phase II spanned 1991 and 1992, and the final Phase III was 1992 through 1995. In total, 18,852 Seras were built. When production ended, there was no official replacement for the Sera. At least the MR-2 would soldier on.

Today’s Rare Ride is a rarer example from Phase II, in light green. With an automatic transmission and in need of some cleaning, Duncan Imports asks $9,998.

[Images: seller]

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2 of 27 comments
  • Apl Apl on Apr 13, 2019

    I like the design. It is different. But if it was sold only in Japan, why are the controls marked with English lettering, not Japanese?

  • WallMeerkat WallMeerkat on Apr 15, 2019

    I thought these were banned because of the doors? How do they function in a rollover accident?

  • MrIcky Out of the possible Jeep recalls to bring up on this site, I'm surprised it's this one and not round 2 of the clutch recall.
  • Dukeisduke I saw a well-preserved Mark VII LSC on the road not too long ago, and I had to do a double-take. They still have a presence. Back when these were new, a cousin of mine owned an LSC with the BMW turbo diesel.
  • Dukeisduke I imagine that stud was added during the design process for something, and someone further along the process forgot to delete it after it became unnecessary.
  • Analoggrotto Knew about it all along but only now did the risk analysis tilt against leaving it there.
  • Mike Beranek Funny story about the '80 T-bird. My old man's Dart Sport had given up the ghost so he was car-shopping. He & I dropped my mom at a store and then went to the Ford dealer, where we test-drove the new T-Bird (with digital dash!)So we pull up to the store to pick mom up. She walks out and dad says "We just bought it.". Mom stares at the Mulroney- almost 13 grand- and just about fell over.Dad had not in fact bought the T-Bird, instead he got a Cordoba for only 9 grand.